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1.  RIM-DB: a taxonomic framework for community structure analysis of methanogenic archaea from the rumen and other intestinal environments 
PeerJ  2014;2:e494.
Methane is formed by methanogenic archaea in the rumen as one of the end products of feed fermentation in the ruminant digestive tract. To develop strategies to mitigate anthropogenic methane emissions due to ruminant farming, and to understand rumen microbial differences in animal feed conversion efficiency, it is essential that methanogens can be identified and taxonomically classified with high accuracy. Currently available taxonomic frameworks offer only limited resolution beyond the genus level for taxonomic assignments of sequence data stemming from high throughput sequencing technologies. Therefore, we have developed a QIIME-compatible database (DB) designed for species-level taxonomic assignment of 16S rRNA gene amplicon data targeting methanogenic archaea from the rumen, and from animal and human intestinal tracts. Called RIM-DB (Rumen and Intestinal Methanogen-DB), it contains a set of 2,379 almost full-length chimera-checked 16S rRNA gene sequences, including 20 previously unpublished sequences from isolates from three different orders. The taxonomy encompasses the recently-proposed seventh order of methanogens, the Methanomassiliicoccales, and allows differentiation between defined groups within this order. Sequence reads from rumen contents from a range of ruminant-diet combinations were taxonomically assigned using RIM-DB, Greengenes and SILVA. This comparison clearly showed that taxonomic assignments with RIM-DB resulted in the most detailed assignment, and only RIM-DB taxonomic assignments allowed methanogens to be distinguished taxonomically at the species level. RIM-DB complements the use of comprehensive databases such as Greengenes and SILVA for community structure analysis of methanogens from the rumen and other intestinal environments, and allows identification of target species for methane mitigation strategies.
PMCID: PMC4137658  PMID: 25165621
Methanogen; Archaea; Taxonomy; Rumen; Intestinal microbiota; Reference database
2.  Two Different Bacterial Community Types Are Linked with the Low-Methane Emission Trait in Sheep 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103171.
The potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) is produced in the rumens of ruminant animals from hydrogen produced during microbial degradation of ingested feed. The natural animal-to-animal variation in the amount of CH4 emitted and the heritability of this trait offer a means for reducing CH4 emissions by selecting low-CH4 emitting animals for breeding. We demonstrate that differences in rumen microbial community structure are linked to high and low CH4 emissions in sheep. Bacterial community structures in 236 rumen samples from 118 high- and low-CH4 emitting sheep formed gradual transitions between three ruminotypes. Two of these (Q and S) were linked to significantly lower CH4 yields (14.4 and 13.6 g CH4/kg dry matter intake [DMI], respectively) than the third type (H; 15.9 g CH4/kg DMI; p<0.001). Low-CH4 ruminotype Q was associated with a significantly lower ruminal acetate to propionate ratio (3.7±0.4) than S (4.4±0.7; p<0.001) and H (4.3±0.5; p<0.001), and harbored high relative abundances of the propionate-producing Quinella ovalis. Low-CH4 ruminotype S was characterized by lactate- and succinate-producing Fibrobacter spp., Kandleria vitulina, Olsenella spp., Prevotella bryantii, and Sharpea azabuensis. High-CH4 ruminotype H had higher relative abundances of species belonging to Ruminococcus, other Ruminococcaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Catabacteriaceae, Coprococcus, other Clostridiales, Prevotella, other Bacteroidales, and Alphaproteobacteria, many of which are known to form significant amounts of hydrogen. We hypothesize that lower CH4 yields are the result of bacterial communities that ferment ingested feed to relatively less hydrogen, which results in less CH4 being formed.
PMCID: PMC4117531  PMID: 25078564
3.  The long-term stability of the human gut microbiota 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;341(6141):1237439.
A low-error 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing method (LEA-Seq) plus whole genome sequencing of >500 cultured isolates were used to characterize bacterial strain composition in the fecal microbiota of 37 USA adults sampled for up to five years. Microbiota stability follows a power law function which, when extrapolated, suggests that most strains in an individual are residents for decades. Shared strains were recovered from family members, but not from unrelated individuals. Sampling individuals for up to 32 weeks while consuming a monotonous liquid diet indicated that changes in weight are more predictive of changes in strain composition than sampling interval. This combination of stability and responsiveness to physiologic change confirms the potential of the gut microbiota as a diagnostic tool and therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3791589  PMID: 23828941
4.  Simultaneous Amplicon Sequencing to Explore Co-Occurrence Patterns of Bacterial, Archaeal and Eukaryotic Microorganisms in Rumen Microbial Communities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e47879.
Ruminants rely on a complex rumen microbial community to convert dietary plant material to energy-yielding products. Here we developed a method to simultaneously analyze the community's bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes, ciliate 18S rRNA genes and anaerobic fungal internal transcribed spacer 1 genes using 12 DNA samples derived from 11 different rumen samples from three host species (Ovis aries, Bos taurus, Cervus elephas) and multiplex 454 Titanium pyrosequencing. We show that the mixing ratio of the group-specific DNA templates before emulsion PCR is crucial to compensate for differences in amplicon length. This method, in contrast to using a non-specific universal primer pair, avoids sequencing non-targeted DNA, such as plant- or endophyte-derived rRNA genes, and allows increased or decreased levels of community structure resolution for each microbial group as needed. Communities analyzed with different primers always grouped by sample origin rather than by the primers used. However, primer choice had a greater impact on apparent archaeal community structure than on bacterial community structure, and biases for certain methanogen groups were detected. Co-occurrence analysis of microbial taxa from all three domains of life suggested strong within- and between-domain correlations between different groups of microorganisms within the rumen. The approach used to simultaneously characterize bacterial, archaeal and eukaryotic components of a microbiota should be applicable to other communities occupying diverse habitats.
PMCID: PMC3568148  PMID: 23408926
5.  Complete Genome Sequence of Methanothermobacter marburgensis, a Methanoarchaeon Model Organism▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(21):5850-5851.
The circular genome sequence of the chemolithoautotrophic euryarchaeon Methanothermobacter marburgensis, with 1,639,135 bp, was determined and compared with that of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus. The genomes of the two model methanogens differ substantially in protein coding sequences, in insertion sequence (IS)-like elements, and in clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loci.
PMCID: PMC2953689  PMID: 20802048
6.  More Than 200 Genes Required for Methane Formation from H2 and CO2 and Energy Conservation Are Present in Methanothermobacter marburgensis and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Archaea  2011;2011:973848.
The hydrogenotrophic methanogens Methanothermobacter marburgensis and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus can easily be mass cultured. They have therefore been used almost exclusively to study the biochemistry of methanogenesis from H2 and CO2, and the genomes of these two model organisms have been sequenced. The close relationship of the two organisms is reflected in their genomic architecture and coding potential. Within the 1,607 protein coding sequences (CDS) in common, we identified approximately 200 CDS required for the synthesis of the enzymes, coenzymes, and prosthetic groups involved in CO2 reduction to methane and in coupling this process with the phosphorylation of ADP. Approximately 20 additional genes, such as those for the biosynthesis of F430 and methanofuran and for the posttranslational modifications of the two methyl-coenzyme M reductases, remain to be identified.
PMCID: PMC3087415  PMID: 21559116
7.  Coupled Ferredoxin and Crotonyl Coenzyme A (CoA) Reduction with NADH Catalyzed by the Butyryl-CoA Dehydrogenase/Etf Complex from Clostridium kluyveri▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;190(3):843-850.
Cell extracts of butyrate-forming clostridia have been shown to catalyze acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA)- and ferredoxin-dependent formation of H2 from NADH. It has been proposed that these bacteria contain an NADH:ferredoxin oxidoreductase which is allosterically regulated by acetyl-CoA. We report here that ferredoxin reduction with NADH in cell extracts from Clostridium kluyveri is catalyzed by the butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase/Etf complex and that the acetyl-CoA dependence previously observed is due to the fact that the cell extracts catalyze the reduction of acetyl-CoA with NADH via crotonyl-CoA to butyryl-CoA. The cytoplasmic butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase complex was purified and is shown to couple the endergonic reduction of ferredoxin (E0′ = −410 mV) with NADH (E0′ = −320 mV) to the exergonic reduction of crotonyl-CoA to butyryl-CoA (E0′ = −10 mV) with NADH. The stoichiometry of the fully coupled reaction is extrapolated to be as follows: 2 NADH + 1 oxidized ferredoxin + 1 crotonyl-CoA = 2 NAD+ + 1 ferredoxin reduced by two electrons + 1 butyryl-CoA. The implications of this finding for the energy metabolism of butyrate-forming anaerobes are discussed in the accompanying paper.
PMCID: PMC2223550  PMID: 17993531
8.  Re-Citrate Synthase from Clostridium kluyveri Is Phylogenetically Related to Homocitrate Synthase and Isopropylmalate Synthase Rather Than to Si-Citrate Synthase† ▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(11):4299-4304.
The synthesis of citrate from acetyl-coenzyme A and oxaloacetate is catalyzed in most organisms by a Si-citrate synthase, which is Si-face stereospecific with respect to C-2 of oxaloacetate. However, in Clostridium kluyveri and some other strictly anaerobic bacteria, the reaction is catalyzed by a Re-citrate synthase, whose primary structure has remained elusive. We report here that Re-citrate synthase from C. kluyveri is the product of a gene predicted to encode isopropylmalate synthase. C. kluyveri is also shown to contain a gene for Si-citrate synthase, which explains why cell extracts of the organism always exhibit some Si-citrate synthase activity.
PMCID: PMC1913417  PMID: 17400742
9.  The Genome Sequence of Methanosphaera stadtmanae Reveals Why This Human Intestinal Archaeon Is Restricted to Methanol and H2 for Methane Formation and ATP Synthesis†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(2):642-658.
Methanosphaera stadtmanae has the most restricted energy metabolism of all methanogenic archaea. This human intestinal inhabitant can generate methane only by reduction of methanol with H2 and is dependent on acetate as a carbon source. We report here the genome sequence of M. stadtmanae, which was found to be composed of 1,767,403 bp with an average G+C content of 28% and to harbor only 1,534 protein-encoding sequences (CDS). The genome lacks 37 CDS present in the genomes of all other methanogens. Among these are the CDS for synthesis of molybdopterin and for synthesis of the carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/acetyl-coenzyme A synthase complex, which explains why M. stadtmanae cannot reduce CO2 to methane or oxidize methanol to CO2 and why this archaeon is dependent on acetate for biosynthesis of cell components. Four sets of mtaABC genes coding for methanol:coenzyme M methyltransferases were found in the genome of M. stadtmanae. These genes exhibit homology to mta genes previously identified in Methanosarcina species. The M. stadtmanae genome also contains at least 323 CDS not present in the genomes of all other archaea. Seventy-three of these CDS exhibit high levels of homology to CDS in genomes of bacteria and eukaryotes. These 73 CDS include 12 CDS which are unusually long (>2,400 bp) with conspicuous repetitive sequence elements, 13 CDS which exhibit sequence similarity on the protein level to CDS encoding enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of cell surface antigens in bacteria, and 5 CDS which exhibit sequence similarity to the subunits of bacterial type I and III restriction-modification systems.
PMCID: PMC1347301  PMID: 16385054

Results 1-9 (9)